Thursday, January 22, 2015

How to sew toddler fitted bed sheets with an attached flat sheet

My toddler son was so excited to get his new big boy bed (his "good boy bed" as he still calls it two months later!) and even more excited to make a trip to the fabric store with me to pick out material for his new sheets.  I'd previously made fitted sheets for his crib but was ready to venture into making him a full matching sheet set- fitted, flat and pillow case.  However, I could already guess that the flat sheet would never stay where it was supposed to unless I made it permanent.  Below are detailed directions on how to make a sheet set where the flat sheet is attached at the bottom pockets and seam to the fitted sheet.  And its done the trick perfectly, his sheets are always on the bed!  Hope this helps others out there, happy sewing!

What you need:

4 yards of fabric (I love to use heavy cotton for summer and soft fleece for winter)
- 1.9 yards for the fitted sheet
- 1.9 yards for the flat sheet
80 inches of 3/8" braided elastic
straight pins
2 safety pins
sewing machine

Cutting the fabric:

1. The width of the fabric is about 44" across, which is pretty standard bolt size.  Cut one piece of fabric 67" long (fitted sheet), one piece 51" long (flat sheet), and one piece of fabric 16" long (for the top trim on the flat sheet).

2. From the fitted sheet (the 67" long piece) cut an 8" x 8" square from each corner.  This can be easily accomplished by folding the four corners together and cutting at once.  From the flat sheet (the 51" piece) cut an 8" x 8" square from TWO of the four corners.  These will be the bottom corners that will be attached to the fitted sheet. ***If the pattern has a particular orientation make sure you have them both in the same orientation before cutting the corners, specifically for the flat sheet!***

Flat sheet:  44" wide x 51" long (note this is folded in half length-wise).  The 8" x 8" corner that is cut (lower right) is actually two layers so that both of the corners on this end have been cut.
Fitted sheet:  44" wide x 67" long (note this is folded in half length-wise).  The 8" x 8" corners that are cut (top and bottom right) are actually two layers so that all four corners of this sheet have been cut.
Trim for flat sheet: 44" wide x 16" long (note this piece is folded in half).  This step isn't required but adds a little detail to the top of the flat sheet.  It also makes it so that the top of the flat sheet has print on both sides, which can be nice depending on how (or whether!) your kiddo makes their bed.

3. Next prepare the trim piece to be added to the flat sheet.  First, iron the trim piece in half lengthwise to create a nice fold.  Then open the trim piece up wrong side facing up.  Fold over about 3/4" of fabric from each long side and iron flat.

4. Align the trim piece with the top of the flat sheet.  One folded edge of the trim piece should be under the flat sheet and the other on top of the flat sheet to create sort of a sandwich.  Make sure everything lines up well and pin.  Sew along the edge of the trim piece to secure to the flat sheet.

Lay out trim and flat sheet in correct orientation.
Align bottom of trim piece with flat sheet.
Align top and bottom of trim piece with flat sheet.
Pin edges.
Sew seam.  You could also use a contrasting fabric or solid for a nice effect.

5. Next you will sew the edge seams for the flat sheet.  Fold over about 3/4" of fabric on each of the long sides, iron, pin and sew.  Don't sew quite all the way down to the bottom where the cutouts are for the pocket so its easier to align them with the fitted sheet (see left edge of second photo).

6. Now you are ready to attach the fitted sheet to the flat sheet.  Lay out your fabric for your fitted sheet in the correct orientation.  Align the flat sheet directly on top of the fitted sheet, carefully lining up the bottom corner pocket cutouts.  Grab the edge of each of the lower corner pockets (both layers of fabric) and bring the sides together so that the print is on the inside and the wrong side is showing.  Your two cut 8" x 8" edges should be together.  Do this for each of the two lower pockets and also for the two upper pockets on the fitted sheet (1 layer of fabric).  Sew the corners.

6.  Now its time to make the channel for the elastic of the fitted sheet.  I prefer my sheets to have elastic all the way around (versus just on the pockets) because I think the sheets fit easier, cleaner and stay on better that way.  Here you will turn over about 3/4" of fabric twice (to create a channel rather than just a seam), iron and pin.  I do only one side at a time so I'm not being stuck with pins the whole time I am trying to sew.  When you reach a corner just keep the alignment of the channel and keep going.  

***Remember your channel will be with the adjoined flat and fitted sheets only along the bottom; as soon as you turn the bottom corner around the pocket and the two sheets are separate make the channel only in the fitted sheet layer.***  

***Its better to make your channel a bit bigger than you think you need rather than smaller.  The dimensions given here are ample enough to easily fit a standard size crib or toddler mattress, and if you make the channel too small you will go insane trying to run the elastic through it in step 7.***

***SUPER IMPORTANT: Make sure to leave a roughly 2" opening so you have a place to put the elastic through!***

7.  We're almost there!  Now that you have a channel created all the way around the bottom sheet (except for that 2" opening you left to insert the elastic, right?) we can run the elastic through.  Cut 80" of 3/8" braided elastic (color doesn't really matter).  Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic.  Use the other safety pin to attach the other end of the elastic to the sheet next to the channel opening.

Now insert the free end of the elastic into the channel.  This part is best done sitting on the couch watching your favorite show because a) it can take a few minutes and b) its BORING!  Feel through the fabric and work the pin along inside the channel running it all the way around the sheet.  This takes a little patience and sometimes going back and pulling the elastic into the fabric or stretching the fitted sheet with your hands.

8.  When you've finally finished the dreaded step 7 pin the two ends of the elastic together and sew them together.  Then you've got a little more manipulation to do to get the elastic even around the entire sheet.  Then sew the opening in the fabric where you inserted the elastic closed.

9.  Yay, now its time to try the new sheets on your kiddo's bed!  Don't they look amazing?!  I've also considered that it might be useful to sew one side of the flat sheet to the fitted sheet if your kiddo tends to always kick the sheets off.  This would be akin to an unzipped sleeping bag, attached on one side but open on the other.  You probably wouldn't want to sew all the way up, but where the two layers were attached you would just make a dual channel like at the bottom of the sheets in this tutorial.

The bottom of the sheet is to the left.  You may notice that my top flat sheet is too long, as seen by the fold at the top (right side).  I've adjusted my measurements so what is stated above won't result in this extra fabric.

I hope to be posting a tutorial for a matching pillow case (with snaps to keep the pillow neatly inside!) over the next week.  I ran out of fabric so need to make a trip before I can do that part.  I hope you enjoy this tutorial and find it useful.  Now that I know how easy this is I don't buy sheets anymore for my kiddo- its especially great when there is a sale or coupon at the fabric store!  Please send comments or questions and I will try to help where I can!

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